“Some of my most sacred meals have been eaten out of travel mugs on camping trips or on benches on the street in Europe. Many of them have been at our own table or around our coffee table, leaning back against the couch. They’ve been high food and low food, fresh and frozen, extravagant and right out of the pizza box. It’s about the table, and about all the other places we find ourselves. It’s about the spirit or quality of living that rises up when we offer one another life itself, in the form of dinner or soup or breakfast, or bread and wine.” – Shauna Niequist, Bread & Wine
Today I’m reflecting on food. This is partially because I love food, but mostly because a woman in her third trimester of pregnancy is hungry ALL.THE.TIME. Food is what I think about, oh, every 2 hours. Moving on…
Like Shauna, I believe memorable meals aren’t hard to come by.
There was the first time I overate at the Sizzler all-you-can-eat buffet on my 11th birthday, and when I experienced my first fancy meal at Five Crowns in Corona del Mar.
There was trip in high school when I tried lobster with my family in Georgetown, DC and the progressive dinner my parents hosted for Winter Formal 1996.
There was the time my girlfriends got Paesano’s take-out for Jenny’s 20th birthday and snuck it into the abandoned Lodge on Westmont’s campus, where we ate by candlelight on the ratty carpet floor.
There was a meal during my first trip to China where Anne and I ate ants, snake, camel, kangaroo, maggots, and crocodile. And honestly, we liked most of the dishes!
There was the multiple course meal in Florence and our bread and butter mornings in France and the rowdy Thanksgiving dinner in Prague where Elise and I drew turkeys that resembled The Scream by Edvard Munch.
There was the night Jonathan took me on our first date as boyfriend and girlfriend to Santa Barbara’s charming La Playa Azul. And then years later the meal at One if By Land, Two if By Sea in New York’s West Village after he proposed.
There was dinner at Ella the night before I went into labor with Anna, and my 30th birthday at The Porch with a long table of women I love and adore.
And then there was the time I ate lunch at Hooters in Interlaken, Switzerland.
The Hooters meal is not exactly my finest moment. (I’m going to assume most of you know Hooters is an international restaurant chain that defines itself as “delightfully tacky yet unrefined.” By delightfully tacky, think sports bar that employs only beautiful, young waitresses with very large, um, hooters.) But, in my defense, if you’ve ever traveled abroad for more than several weeks straight then I’m sure you hit a point (or two!) when all you wanted was a meal that tasted familiar.
After wandering around Interlaken for a half hour with out stomachs grumbling, my bickering girlfriends and I ducked into Hooters for a side salad and bowl of clam chowder. I think all of us felt a little guilty about supporting such an establishment, but the biggest moment of irony happened when over the loudspeaker a unique song choice began to play: I Can Only Imagine by MercyMe. (For those of you not familiar with Christian culture, I Can Only Imagine is a song about what it will be like to meet Jesus in Heaven.)
Needless to say, I Can Only Imagine wasn’t the bump and grind type of song you’d expect while eating lunch at Hooters. I am 100% convinced that Jesus was giving us a little nudge and chuckle while he watched us eat while saying, “Really, girls? You were THAT hungry for a bowl of clam chowder?”
To top it off, all of us girls thought we’d gotten away with our questionable restaurant choice until we realized that a few guys in our group noticed us as they walked by the patio windows. AND THEY WERE HOLDING A VIDEO CAMERA! Months later, upon our return to the States, our group of 40 got together and watched a highlights video from our trip. Low and behold, our Hooters lunch was included on the DVD so that no one will ever forget our Hooters’ meal.
What are some of your most memorable meals?